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1784
Black Methodists form their own church in Philadelphia.


1857
The Dred Scott decision, in the infamous U.S. Supreme Court case, declared that no black—free or slave—could claim United States citizenship, and, therefore, could not sue. The court declared that residence in a free state does not give freedom to the slave and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in United States territories. The ruling aroused angry resentment in the North and led the nation a step closer to civil war. It also will influence the introduction and passage of the 14th Amendment to the U.S.  Constitution after the Civil War (1861-1865). The amendment, adopted in 1868, extended citizenship to former slaves and gave them full civil rights.


1863
Adella Hunt’s birth is celebrated on this date. She was an African-American educator and administrator.

She was born in Sparta, Georgia, the daughter of a Black woman and a white farmer, Henry Hunt. Her father served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He did not live with his eight children but he did help to pay for Adella’s education at Sparta’s Bass Academy and at Atlanta University. In 1883, young Hunt taught at the American Missionary School before joining Booker T. Washington and Olivia Davidson at the Tuskegee Institute.

Adella Hunt taught English and social sciences and served as Tuskegee’s first librarian. She married Warren Logan, a fellow teacher and administrator at the Tuskegee Institute, in 1888. Over the next few years, she gave birth to nine children, but only six survived to adulthood. A strong supporter of women’s suffrage, Hunt led monthly discussions on the subject at the Tuskegee Woman’s Club. She also built a large library of reading materials about issues and lectured at regional and national conferences of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. Hunt wrote about women’s rights in Crisis, a journal produced by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Hunt became ill in 1915 with depression and was admitted to Battle Creek Sanitarium for treatment. She returned to the Tuskegee Institute after hearing that Booker T. Washington was seriously ill.

Hunt’s depression increased after the death of Washington. Tragically and inexplicably, Adella Hunt Logan committed suicide by jumping from one of Tuskegee’s buildings following the death of Booker T. Washington. On December 12, 1915, she jumped to her death from the top floor of one of the school’s buildings.



1865
Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., was born on this date. He was an African-American clergyman and author.

Powell was born in a log cabin in Soak Creek, Virginia in Franklin County, Virginia, of parents, Anthony and Sally Dunning Powell, who had been slaves. He was one of the most famous African-American churchmen of his time. Converted in 1885, he decided to study law and politics. He attended Virginia Union University from 1888 to 1892, and graduated from its theological and academic schools. He served several churches in various cities such as St. Paul, Philadelphia, and New Haven, where he was a special student at Yale Divinity School before being named pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, in December of 1908.

He was a captivating preacher and managed to increase the congregation of the Abyssinian Church substantially. Services at Abyssinian Baptist Church were joyful events. Spontaneous cries and shouts of “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” and “Praise the Lord!” perpetually punctuated the services and resounded throughout the church as worshipers gave voice to their faith. “Emotionalism,” Powell explained, was the heart of religious experience. “It is the electric current in the organized Christian Church. Confine it to batteries, and this wild and frightful something could run our trains, drive our automobiles, and bring New York and South Africa within whispering distance of each other.”

In 1920, Powell bought land in Harlem for the church at West 138th St. in 1923; a new church building had been constructed. Powell also built one of the first community recreation centers in Harlem. He established a social/religious education program, and by 1937, when he retired, Abyssinian Baptist Church, declaring 14,000 members, had one of the largest Protestant congregations in America. During the Depression, he campaigned to feed the poor and for better jobs and city services. Powell, Sr., was actively involved in the struggle against racism, and he lectured on race relations at Colgate University, City College of New York and Union Theological Seminary.

He was a co-founder of the National Urban League, an early leader in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and one of the organizers of the Silent Protest Parade of 1928. Powell was an advocate of racial pride and believed in education and hard work. For 29 years, Powell so electrified his congregation and much of Harlem that it was only in 1937, on his third attempt, that the church agreed to let him retire. Powell turned over the pulpit to his son, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. who in 1945 became New York’s first Black congressman.

Powell Sr. died in 1953, leaving behind a church that endures as one of Harlem’s most important institutions.



1883
Josiah Henson joins the ancestors in Dawn, Ontario, Canada at the age of 93. He had escaped slavery in Maryland and settled in Canada. He had been part of the creation of a settlement for fugitive slaves near Dawn, Ontario.


1905
The Chicago Defender was founded on this date. The brainchild of Robert Sengstacke Abbot (1870-1940), it was one of the first African-American newspapers in this country to reach a circulation of more than 100,000 and self described as “the world’s greatest weekly.”

During the era classified by the historians as the “Great Migration,” 1915 to 1948, The Chicago Defender and Mr. Abbott played a major role. Using its pages, Mr. Abbott was able to influence more than 50,000 African-Americans to leave southern states and come to Chicago. In Chicago the opportunities for employment, education and personal freedom were immensely greater. On February 4, 1956, Abbott’s nephew, John H. Sengstacke took over the Chicago Daily Defender.

This publication became the largest African-American daily in the country. Continuing the work of his uncle, he used the Defender to help “improve the quality of life” for all Americans. He was directly involved in the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces. He also worked closely with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs in the United States Postal Service for African-Americans.

Abbott was a graduate of Hampton Institute in Virginia and Kent School of Law in Chicago. Forbidden to practice law because of racial discrimination, Mr. Abbott turned to the skill he had learned at Hampton, printing. With 25 dollars, a table and a typewriter, he began publishing The Chicago Defender from his kitchen. In its original concept, The Chicago Defender was a weekly publication. Over the years, the influence and the circulation of the Defender grew.

The Chicago Daily Defender today is a newspaper that brings readers worldwide coverage of news, excellent features and a myriad of other sections. The Defender does not limit its news columns to African-American subjects. Instead, it covers the full spectrum of news. However its major audience is the African-American market, and its purpose is to fulfill the African-American need for a publication dedicated to this cause.



1911
James A. Bland, writer of over 600 songs, including “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” Virginia’s state song as of 1940, died on this date.


1918
The NAACP awards its 4th Spingarn Medal to William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite. Braithwaite’s publication of essays and verse in notable mainstream magazines and editorial efforts on three books of verse and poetry anthologies had earned him wide acclaim among African Americans and whites.


1920
Daniel Robert Bankhead, the first Black pitcher in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers, was born on this date in Empire, AL.


1931
Edwin A. Harleston joins the ancestors in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the most popular and influential African American painters of the day, his work will be exhibited at the Harmon Foundation, the Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and in the exhibit “Two Centuries of Black American Art.”


1935
Jesse Owens, of the United States, sets the long jump record at 26’ 8”.


1938
Johnnie Taylor was born on this date. He was an African-American singer and producer.

Born in Crawford, Arkansas,
Johnnie Harrison Taylor was raised in nearby West Memphis. Inspired equally by gospel and blues (the legendary blues man Junior Parker was his neighbor), Taylor first recorded in the early 1950S as part of the Five Echoes, a Doo-Wop group. Taylor’s lead singing was strikingly close to Sam Cooke, and he took Cooke’s place in the Soul Stirrers in 1957. After two years, Taylor left to pursue a short career as a preacher.

Eventually, Cooke recruited Taylor with the intention of making him a pop/R&B attraction. Taylor gained popularity with “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day” (1962). In 1966, Taylor signed” and “I’ve got To Love Somebody.” Two years later, Taylor’s style easily recorded “Who’s Makin Love,” which shot to the top of the R&B charts. For the next seven years, Taylor’s name rarely left the bestseller list. His first million seller was followed by such classics as “Take Care of Your Homework,” “Jody’s Got Your Girl,” “Steal Away, and “Cheaper To Keep Her,” to name a few.

With the demise of Stax records, Taylor moved over to Columbia, recording “Disco Lady,” which was at the top of everybody’s charts in 1975. After leaving Columbia, he made a brief stop at Beverly Glen Records in 1982, recording an album and climbing back into the charts with the “What About My Love” single. In 1984, he joined Malaco Records. His initial Malaco album was “This Is Your Night.” The follow up “Wall To Wall” proved to be just a satisfying popular release for h, a town just south of Dallas in June 2000.



1943
Maximiliano Gomez Horatio is born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. After working in the sugar refineries in his home area, be will become a politician, leading the Dominican Popular Movement. He believed that the Dominican Republic should be guided by its own historical and social environment, not on any European model. He will participate in an insurrection that is ended by a U.S. invasion in 1965. He will later be imprisoned and after his release, he will go into exile. He will join the ancestors under suspicious circumstances in Brussels, Belgium, in 1971.


1950
On this date, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African-American awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry, “Annie Allen.”


1965
Edgar Austin Mittelholzer joins the ancestors in Farnham, Surrey, England, after committing suicide at the age of 55. He had been the first author from the Carribean to earn his living as a writer. He was considered the father of the novel in the English-speaking Caribbean.


1969
Moneta Sleet, Jr. became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his photograph of Coretta Scott King and her daughter, Bernice, at Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral in 1968. Sleet was born in Owensboro, KY on February 14, 1926. He started taking photographs as a child after his parents gave him an old box camera. He later studied photography at Kentucky State College. Sleet then moved to New York City, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism from NYU. In 1955, he joined Ebony Magazine. Sleet covered the Montgomery Movement, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Sweden. His works were exhibited at several museums and public libraries. The critically acclaimed book, Special Moments in African-American History: The Photographs of Moneta Sleet, Jr., 1955-1996, was published in 1999. He died on September 30, 1996 in New York City at the age of 70.


1971
A race riot occurs in the Brownsville section of New York City.


1975
Hank Aaron surpasses Babe Ruth’s RBI mark. He will finish his career with 755 home runs and over 2200 RBIs. Both records will stand for many years. Aaron will be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame on August 1, 1982.


1977
The Afro-American Historical and Genealogy Society is founded in Washington, DC. The society’s mission is to encourage scholarly research in African American genealogy.


1985
The Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY reopened to celebrate its 50th anniversary as America’s best known and beloved showcase for Black entertainers. The building had just gone through a 15-month, $10 million renovation.


1988
Eugene Antonio Marino became the first Black Roman Catholic archbishop in the United States when he was installed in Atlanta on this day. Appointed to the post by Pope John Paul II earlier in the year, more than 4,500 people, including over 50 bishops and at least three cardinals, crowded the Atlanta Civic Center to see the event. Born on May 29, 1934, in Biloxi, MS, Marino went to parish schools there and graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary College in Washington, D.C. He earned a master’s degree in religious education at Fordham University. The Society of St. Joseph, the largest Catholic order ministering mainly to Blacks, ordained Marino a priest in 1962. Marino’s leadership focused on increasing Black participation in the Church and ministering to the poor. Prior to becoming an archbishop, he had been a regional bishop in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, MD. Marino died November 12, 2000, in Manhasset, NY, at the age of 66.


2003
Walter Sisulu, a major player in the fight against apartheid in South Africa with Nelson Mandela, joins the ancestors at the age of 90 after a long illness.


2005
On this date, Lena Baker, an African-American woman, was pardoned posthumously for a murder.

In 1944, Baker was sentenced to death in Randolph County for murder. She is the only woman ever put to death in Georgia’s electric chair. Baker had been a maid in the household of white employer E.B. Knight. She allegedly killed Knight because he threatened her at a Cuthbert Grist mill. An all-white jury convicted her in a one-day trial.

Sixty years later, in 2005, Georgia’s pardon and parole board ruled a “grievous error” occurred when she was denied clemency in 1945. The board decided mercy was in order in such a case. In the years before the pardon, Baker’s family had lobbied publicly for the pardon.


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